In the wake of the hanging wrestling dummy incident by members of the Phillipsburg wrestling team, the district decided to hold assemblies hosted by a number of professionals whose job it is to teach racial and ethnic sensitivity to students.

The first in the series of assemblies, hosted by a detective from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, meant to promote diversity, went over like the proverbial “fart in church” – sending one kid home crying to her mother and some others saying how much they now hated white people.


The presentation had mainly to do with the fallout of hate speech – depicting violent images – showing one which made national news at the time, in which a black man was dragged behind a pickup truck by a group of whites some years back in Texas.

According to this story from

Kim Williams, mother of sophomore Kenya Allah, who is black, said her daughter came home in tears, distressed at what she had seen.

According to Williams, Kenya did not like the violent imagery shown during the assembly and told her mother that students cried and attempted to walk out of the program.

One film shown was "Jasper, Texas," which depicts the true story of James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to his death from a pickup truck by three white supremacists.

Williams said her daughter saw an image of the man's head being torn off in the video and that students were told they could not leave the program, but could put their heads down if they felt uncomfortable.
She also said that any student who left was disciplined with suspension, but the administration could not confirm that information.

According to Williams her daughter said that some other black students responded by openly saying they hate white people.

Stating that the program was recommended to the district by the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, Superintendent George M. Chando said, "We regret if a student was upset with any segment of the program that was delivered as Detective D’Amico continually stressed to students they are leaders, heroes, and role models and everyone should be treated with respect."

Williams said that in a conversation with Principal Greg Troxell, her concerns were not adequately dealt with.

"Whatever message he was trying to send, they didn't get it," she said of the program.

I’m not in the mental health profession, however I would imagine the natural reaction to seeing the outcome of hateful behavior would be to hate even more the perpetrators.

Is this necessarily serving the purpose that administrators had in mind when they set the program up in the first place?
Short answer – no.

So one has to wonder what can be expected from future assemblies meant to foster a climate of mutual respect if resentment is going to be the natural outcome.

And I have to wonder if anyone who’s ever gone through any kind of “sensitivity training” program has had the same reaction.

Do sensitivity training programs work?